Stories From Smaller Nonprofits ~ Dotted Line Divas


Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 11.21.28 AMDuring this tinsel time of year we often look to nonprofits to help families bridge the gap in providing items that will help make the holidays a little brighter. However, what often gets lost in the crowded NPO space are the smaller nonprofits whose work is critically important.

During December I open Diva Marketing Blog's virtual doors and invite smaller nonprofit organizations to tell their stories in their own special way. It my wish that you might find a small way to make a big impact.

 Sometimes necessity + creativity leads to great ideas. That's how a special organization, Dotted Line Divas, began it's venture to help others by using coupons. Really!

Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 1.11.14 PMOur story teller is Tanorria Askew. Tanorria is not only a special, giving person but a talented, chef who participated on Gordon Ramsay's Master Chef program. Read more about Chef Tanorria in Diva Foodies' (my sister company) Twitter interview.

Hi! My name is Tanorria Askew, and I am the Vice President of the Board for an amazing non-profit called Dotted Line Diva’s! Dotted Line Diva’s is an organization that strategically coupons in order to provide families in need with personal care items.

 About Dotted Line Divas

Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 12.55.21 PMDotted Line Divas is so unique in that it started by a woman who is a family in need herself. Christina Huffines started couponing in order to be able to provide items she was not able to get a food pantries and other assistance organizations. Things like laundry soap, body wash, razors, etc. which are things most of us take for granted. After spending one Christmas giving almost 400 families personal care items that she had stockpiled herself, Christina decided to form a non-profit called Dotted Line Divas.

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Dotted Line Divas now partners with other non-profit organizations to help as many families as possible. Since our start in 2014, we’ve helped support over 2,000 families! Just under a year ago we were also able to open a Personal Care Pantry which allows families to come “shop” with dignity and respect for items that build confidence, keep a clean and healthy home, and inspire others. We typically help anywhere from 30-40 families each month in the pantry!

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Our goal is to help families with basic personal care needs while inspiring them to eventually pay it forward. That’s why we also offer monthly coupon classes for our families to attend to learn how to coupon and save money for their own families. These classes are also open to the community so anyone can come and learn how to coupon. Our hope is those who attend the classes will be inspired enough to use the skills they learn to help support their own families but also give back to the communities in which they live.

How Social Media Plays A Role

Social media has been a platform that Dotted Line Divas uses to spread the word about events, volunteer opportunities, and coupon deals for those would like to partner and help with increasing inventory.

Connect with Dotted Line Divas

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook 

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3544 Carmel, IN

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Stories From Smaller Nonprofits ~ Bags of Hope Project


Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 11.21.28 AMI am excited to bring back Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series.

Even in this generous season of giving the small NPOs too often get lost among big campaigns of nonprofits with larger budgets. In between your shopping and baking and gift wrapping I ask that you take a moment to read a story or two of how people are helping people... one by one. 

It's our hope that you might find a new NPO that touches your heart. Heart holiday  

The Bags of Hope Project is a unique nonprofit that maybe the 'smallest' in our series but none the less the work it does is important and impactful. Bags of Hope Project is a very narrowly focused nonprofit that works strictly on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - supplying their agents who are working to rescue victims of sex trafficking, with items that they need to help victims feel more comfortable during the questioning process.

Our story teller is the founder of Bags of Hope Malenka Warner.

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Malenka's story begins as a dedicated volunteer with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. She is a certified presenter for the GBI’s Cyber Safety Initiative, part of the “Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force,” run by the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit. This important community initiative brings internet safety presentations to schools, neighborhood groups and other community organizations.

Through her work with these organizations Malenka saw a gap in the support system. Based in Atlanta, the Bags of Hope Project, collects and maintains an inventory of items for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Victims Assistance agents in Georgia, which are used to give immediate comfort to rescued sex trafficking victims.

Malenka's "day job" is Managing Director and Owner of Atlanta Daybook, flagship city for the Daybook Network. Daybook is utilized by nonprofit and for profit organizations to promote their organization news and events.

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Bags of Hope Project

The Need or Gap In The System - This isn't a process that many of us have knowledge of, so allow me to give you just a bit of background information. When victims of sex trafficking are rescued by the FBI, they must go through a very specific process of questioning to assist the FBI in building a successful case against the individuals who were responsible for enslaving them. Young children - boys and girls; young women and young boys; young women with babies - These victims are rescued many times with only the clothes on their backs. And after this questioning period, they enter into the state system of care and support.

The Bags of Hope Project goal is to help these victims be more comfortable during the necessary interview process; to give them comfort and reassurance that they are safe and worthy; and to help create a very positive first impression for them of the law enforcement personnel who are working tirelessly to rescue those who are being abused.

For many folks who know me through my company, Daybook Network and Atlanta Daybook, they are sometimes surprised at my interest in this area. It's actually not that unusual, given my background. You see, my father was the former head probation officer of the Fulton County Juvenile Court, which worked to provide juvenile offenders with treatment, rehabilitation, and supervision.

The juvenile court also was involved with situations involving neglect, where kids were placed in healthier and safer environments. I grew up with an understanding of how many kids in our state are in dangerous situations. So when I was nominated to participate in the FBI's 8-week Citizen Academy program that gives business, religious, civic, and community leaders an inside look at the work of the FBI, I jumped at the opportunity.

As a 2003 graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy program, I got to learn a great deal more about the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and about the work they are doing in our community. And I have stayed involved with the work of the Citizens Academy Alumni program, by helping the Bureau with community outreach initiatives.

That experience also introduced me to the folks at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit. When the head of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force asked if I would be interested in becoming one of their community trainers, I again enthusiastically volunteered. Today, the GA ICAC Task Force gives presentations around the state to parents, community organizations, and of course schools. You can request a presentation with this online form.

Through my volunteer work with the FBI, and after meeting with the head of their Victim Assistance unit, I became aware of the need and opportunity to assist the FBI agents in creating the most positive first impression possible for these young victims. According to statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, trafficking victims sometimes return to their trafficker, sometimes out of fear, or because of their uncertainty about their security. It is critical that these victims have the most positive experience possible during this initial questioning period.  Screen Shot 2016-12-15 at 11.19.05 AM

The FBI agents are professional, patient and non-judgmental. Our goal is to provide them with items that will help them create the most positive bond of trust possible.

I formed Bags of Hope Project (a Georgia nonprofit 501c3 organization) when I realized the far-reaching possible affects of helping the FBI agents give these victims basic comfort items in these first critical hours after being rescued.

How You Can Help - Here are the items we are currently collecting: (our list changes per the needs of the Bureau, usually on a seasonal basis)

  • Food Cards (McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, Burger King - basically drive-thru restaurants)

[When a victim is recovered, many times they are hungry. The FBI investigators are not allowed to buy the victim food with their own money or the Bureau's money, but the investigator can drive them to a fast-food restaurant, and using the drive-thru line get them food using the gift cards we provide to the agents. These cards will stay with the agents, so the suggested denominations for each card are $25 and up.]

  • Diapers (Newborn to 5 years)
  • Brand new small stuffed animals
  • Cases of bottled water
  • Sweatshirts/Sweatpants (Please email [email protected] for specific sizes currently needed. We have very limited storage facilities available so we collect clothing as needed by the Bureau.)

If you would like to help, please feel free to send me an email - [email protected]. I'm happy to meet you and collect any items you would like to donate.

Interview With American Marketing Association CEO Russ Klein


Russ Klein _ AMA CEOThere's a new dude in town.

Well in the world of the American Marketing AssociationRuss Klein recently accepted the role of CEO for AMA and with that he now leads North America's largest professional marketing association.  Of course, AMA dropped a media release which details Russ' credentials (impressive!).

I was curious about the man-behind-the-logo. I felt I had a bit of a vested interest since my AMA affliation has a deep and long history from chapter president, to serving as facilitator of interactive and social media workshops and managing AMA's first virtual communities. One might even say, AMA set me on the road to social media when I chaired its first conferene on blogs in 2004 into 2005.  

Russ graciously agreed to a Diva Marketing interview. In the following conversation he offers: 

  • his view on the future of marketing in a disruptive world,
  • a peak into his vision for AMA,
  • the importance of volunteers and his plans to ensure continuous engagement .. and more.

Toby/Marketing: It sounds almost trite to say that marketing is in a state of disruptive chaos and change. Russ, having been in the center of creating marketing plans for some of the largest consumer brands, you can appreciate that our tool boxes are overflowing with new tactics and strategies.

How does a brand, any brand, ensure that its marketing is relevant and adds value for the customer?

Russ Klein/AMA: That’s not an interview question, that’s a theme for a book! Well certainly relevance and value are two watchwords that are the right ones to guide any marketers actions.

It’s not about what’s possible, despite all of the amazing technological advances we all see. It’s still about what is relevant. The main thing many marketers lose sight of is that merely being different is not necessarily relevant to consumers.

  • Creating differences that matter in the lives of consumers is what’s relevant.

I think the more mysterious question lies with the question of value. I am an ardent believer of Rifkin’s theory of near zero marginal costs that he asserts is imminent as a result of the internet of things and the remaining connectivity potential that is in our future. When you have a knowledge-based enterprise like the AMA competing in a world of open sourced innovation, a sharing economy, and lateral economies of scale, there are tremendous downward pressures on the costs of information.

MIT has posted its entire 1800 course curriculum online for free. So the AMA is not only challenged with delivering relevant thought and service leadership to its constituents, our products and services must be peerless to command some level of sustainable pricing power. This is why I am so excited to take on the challenges facing the AMA. This is the ultimate strategic gauntlet for any CEO to navigate.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Totally agree Russ it is a ‘big’ and not easy question. Perhaps we should put that book on our to do list!

However, the American Marketing Association is more than just another brand. One might say the AMA is the North Star for marketers. What do you feel is AMA’s North Star?

Russ Klein/AMA: Great question. My belief is that the academic gravitas and scholarly distinction…is to the AMA, what Mickey Mouse…is to Disney.

More specifically, by Mickey Mouse, I mean film animation. If you remove animated film credentials and the institutional/cultural effects associated with them, Disney is just another film company…no Disneyland, no Disneyworld, no transcendent lifelong emotional attachment with its consumers. If you remove the AMA Journals thought leadership and the esteemed academic status of being published in them, the AMA is just another conference company or speakers bureau.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Moving into the future how will the organzation ensure its does not lose its foucs in a vast sea of chaos?

Hugh North Star
Russ Klein/AMA

  •  Chaos is opportunity for those that can stay poised and focused.

I view it simply as a matter of strategy, because strategy is all about choice. That’s something I’ve never been uncomfortable with. It goes back to what’s relevant, not what’s possible. It’s my job to help the organization identify opportunities and set priorities that can advance the AMA enterprise, and discard those that don’t.

The AMA culture must be one that values decisiveness and managerial courage to take stands in a civil and respectful way. If we stay focused on how we figure into the lives of our constituents, our stakeholders, and our users we will stay relevant and compelling.

The AMA is about improving the way marketing is practiced around the world. In so doing, we will be a vital catalyst spurring improved commerce and prosperity in communities and everywhere.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In your opinion Russ, what is the most critical aspect of marketing that is ‘broken’ which AMA can help ‘fix?”

Russ Klein/AMA: Two things. There is profound lack of 1) Training and development of talent and 2) Managerial courage.

First, CEO’s and CMO’s can’t expect talent to come to them with all the tools and skill-sets necessary to become a world-class marketer. Even if they have those assets when they arrive, the need for lifelong ongoing training and development plans never ceases.

As a CMO I felt a personal obligation to create learning cultures where curiosity and teachable moments were valued. I always felt if I wasn’t spending at least 25% of my day improving the professional capabilities of my people, I was failing. My observation and experience is that this isn’t happening nearly enough.

Second, business in general and marketing in particular is simply not black and white. As much as I believe in disciplined marketing science, there is also marketing art.

Managers are almost always presented with a spectrum of management decisions that range from “no-risk” to “high-risk” with corresponding rewards. Too many corporate cultures, including the marketing cultures inside them, are built around fear of failure and fear of appearing wrong. Or there’s the “go along to get along” mentality which is responsible for more mediocrity than I care to admit I’ve seen.

  • My advice to every marketer, young and old, is to re-examine your capacity for the courage of your convictions. You can’t inspire greatness or excellence without periodic principled “stands” for what you believe to be the right thing to do.

Toby/Diva Marketing: With your background as CMO for major consumer brands, as well as, award winning agency work you bring a prestigious CV to the party. However, nonprofit associations have some different and unique challenges. What most excites you about the opportunity to lead the AMA?

Russ Klein/AMA: I believe the one thing I bring is a ferocious passion to compete. While nobody would ever want to characterize the AMA as a bloodthirsty competitor, I do believe we are nonetheless competing with other formidable knowledge-based enterprises.

The need to identify and leverage competitive advantage is just as relevant in a not-for-profit arena as it is in the for-profit world. I suppose the most obvious difference is the amount of resources available to the AMA to advance its vision versus other better heeled for-profit and scaled up companies. Conversely, those companies seldom can call upon thousands of volunteers and advocates for whom their volunteerism is both a source of personal satisfaction and a calling to be of service to others. I believe the opportunity to hold up a shared vision as a source of inspiration can power the AMA when dollars can’t.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We like to think of AMA as The premier association in terms of marketing sciences thought leadership. Recently it appears the perception is AMA has lost ground to marketing content house like MECLABS, MarketingProfs, eConsultancy, SmartInsights, and of course, to marketing bloggers. What are your thoughts?

Russ Klein/AMA: On one hand I welcome the increased attention that many other enterprises are bringing to the practice of marketing science. Conversely, no one can deliver the academic thought and service leadership, the chapter level engagement, and the volunteerism that distinguishes the AMA. The so-called competitors out there should serve to motivate us to sharpen our competitive advantages in a way that, if we were uncontested, we probably never would.

The esteem with which marketing practitioners, academics, and students are viewed should be on the same level as those who choose medicine or science as their pursuit. The AMA is uniquely positioned to elevate marketing science in this way because of its academic credentials.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you believe that the AMA should reclaim some of that 'thought leadership position' and if so how?

Russ Klein/AMA: I would never say that we couldn’t improve our thought leadership position. Knowledge is a fluid and perishable product. If I didn’t think our best ideas for thought leadership are ahead of us I couldn’t say our best days are ahead of us; and they most definitely are!

Toby/Diva Marketing: Although not professional associations, CEB and MECLABS have recently made acquisitions (Iconoculture and Marketing Sherpa respectively). It’s a different path to follow, but what are your thoughts about the possibilities of strategic acquisitions to grow the AMA and supplement areas where AMA does not have a strong reputation or extensive experience?

Russ Klein/AMA: My fundamental belief is that a healthy business model needs to identify organic growth first. If there are adjacent growth opportunities that can enable or accelerate the AMA vision through acquisition or strategic alliances I imagine we’d want to take a hard look at them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: AMA has traditionally served many different types of marketers: students, academics, practitioners, and researchers. What are your views on how that should be managed in the future? Do you think AMA should continue to try to serve everyone or focus more on one or more groups?

Russ Klein/AMA: I have always been an ardent champion of sharp, vivid focus on core users of a brand.

In the case of the AMA our core users just happen to cut horizontally across like-minded practitioners, academics, and students all of whom are engaged in the pursuit of original and best practices in marketing science. That said, there are still important ways of closing the aperture to create more focus for which we have ideas that remain part of our confidential strategic planning process.

Ama-logo 8_14
Toby/Diva Marketing
: Since AMA members make up part of Diva Marketing’s community and I am an AMA past president of the Atlanta Chapter, let’s talk a bit about the heart and soul of AMA ... its volunteers. What will be the role of professional chapters in the future?

How will the relationship between HC and Chapters evolve - or not?

Russ Klein/AMA: Also a great question. If the academic prowess of the AMA is its strategic advantage, then the thousands of volunteers are the unsung heroes that are responsible for converting that AMA advantage into an AMA experience. Understanding that it is the volunteers who are responsible for delivering the first formative AMA experience to new members is a critical recognition for the so-called headquarters of the AMA. There is just no substitute for “being there” and starting with me, I plan to become a familiar face to as many of our chapters as possible.

  • Politicians and Rock N’ Roll bands both know that the secret to build true loyalty and engagement is by being in the markets; stumping or playing music to their constituents.

I am a big believer in local knowledge and that collecting it in person is the best way to learn about the unique minds and moods of the membership and volunteers.

It might be a good idea to change the “headquarters” language to “support center” which better describes the service leadership we are responsible for providing. Simple ideas like that send culture messages to the organization…but we have to be able to walk the talk. I’m sure we are, but we can always be more present at the chapter or event level.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Professional associations struggle with membership attrition and AMA has its challenges in this area. What are your thoughts on how to engage AMA members, and as important, how to keep them engaged with the association?

 Russ Klein/AMA: Engagement is the operative word. Our goal must always be to convert a user’s connection with the AMA, no matter how it begins, into an engaged relationship wherein the AMA is providing the thought and service leadership that can help that individual experience to advance their personal objectives; be that research, publishing, knowledge acquisition, professional training and development, career networking and camaraderie, problem solving, or identifying marketing strategies and best practices for growth. If we’re creating value in these ways, membership growth and attrition will take care of themselves.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Dennis Dunlap, immediate past AMA CEO, began an international expansion which involved China. What are your thoughts/plans about growing the association’s footprint both on a global and national basis?

Russ Klein/AMA: We are not about planting flags unless we can get the commensurate returns from a scaled up presence. The opportunity to grow membership and engagement inside the U.S. alone is more than enough to satisfy our needs for growth; so it will require a judicious balance and allocation of resources on our part.

With that in mind the AMA will continue to examine thoughtful expansion outside North America where it makes sense. There’s no question, that not unlike American exports of film and music entertainment, American marketing is viewed as a global standard for which the appetite is large.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What are some of the lessons you bring with you from your time in the fast food industry that will help support your success in this exciting new role?

Russ Klein/AMA: The fast food industry is the most competitive industry in the world, simply because so many companies are competing for the largest consumer dollar in the world; the food dollar.

I’ve already shared my belief that I will bring a very energetic sense of competitiveness to the AMA. Beyond that, the other element the fast food industry has taught me is that the restaurant manager trumps the brand manager every time.

  • Likewise, it will still be our chapter-level execution in delivering a world-class professional experience that will define the AMA, not what my team located in Chicago dreams up and posts online.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Since, of course, Diva Marketing is ‘social media’, which means people-talking-to-people, we’d love to get to know a little about the person behind the AMA logo.  

7 Fun Fact About Russ!

1. Briefcase or backpack…backpack
2. Tablet or laptop…laptop
3. PC or Mac…Mac
4. Favorite word…grateful
5. One of your ‘bucket list’ to dos…build a tree house on my ranch in Colorado and have a family reunion there.
6. Favorite social network…Facebook personal/LinkedIn professional
7. Must have when traveling…running shoes

Toby/Diva Marketing: It’s a Diva Marketing tradition to toss the virtual mic to you and give you an opportunity wrap the interview. Is anything you’d like to say to our community about marketing, digital/social media, AMA or ????? It’s your turn Russ!

Russ Klein/AMA: There’s no better time in business history to be a marketer. Get involved with the AMA and I guarantee you will get back many times over what you devote to it. Together, we’re going to light the path to improve marketing originality and best practices and make it the best profession you’ll ever love!

Positively, Russ

Pink boaToss of a pink boa to AMA colleauges who offered interview question ideas. Sybil Stershic, AMA Board Chair and current AMA training/event instructor, president of Quality Services Marketing; Debra Semans, current AMA training instructor and national AMA board member, Dana Van DenHuvel current AMA training instructor, president of Marketing Savant

Stories From Smaller NonProfits: ISDD (Innovative Solutions for Disadvantaged and Disability)


StarsThis is the 5th year of Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series. 

During December we invite nonprofits into Diva to tell their stories in their own very special way. It's our hope that you might find a new NPO that touches your heart. Heart holiday  

In between shopping, wrapping and checking your list twice, we invite you to take a breath and enjoy a few from the heart stories

At the center of this season's inspiration for joy, is of course, the children. It's our pleasure the first story is from an organization, ISDD, whose mission is to improvie the the lives/health of children living in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage.

ISDD (Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability) focuses on practical projects that serve to improve the lives of children who are vulnerable to adverse health and developmental disabilities as a result of living in circumstances of social and economic disadvantage.

Leslie Rubin _ ISSPOur story teller is founder Leslie Rubin.

Doctor Rubin is a developmental pediatrician who is originally from South Africa where he learned about how health disparities in children were related to social injustice and has found the opportunity to make a difference for children in Atlanta and around the world.

The ISDD (Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability) Story

I have been working with children with developmental disabilities for many years and I have stared a number of programs over the years. The one that stands out for me is the Cerebral Palsy clinic that I started with colleagues at the Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital in Downtown Atlanta in 1998.

In 2002, with some funds from a family foundation, we did a survey of the 261 children we had seen in the clinic. As we expected they had a number of physical, medical and surgical complications but what struck us was the social context. We found that many of the children had been born prematurely to mothers who had smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol or taken drugs during pregnancy and that about half of the children were living with a single mother, about 30-40% with grandparents or in foster care, only a small percentage were living in 2 parent households.

This finding completely changed my view of children with developmental disabilities. I realized that developmental disabilities could be the result of social economic, educational, psychological and environmental factors and that the disabilities further aggravated the situation. Thus, I realized that these children then became caught up in what I termed the cycle of disadvantage and disability.

I then determined that I wanted to see what difference I could make in breaking that cycle and helping children lead more fulfilling and successful lives to become functioning and contributing members of society. Shortly thereafter, with the help of some friends, we formed the Institute for the Study of Disadvantage and Disability.

Our very first program was, in fact, called Break the Cycle of Disadvantage and Disability, which invited students from different disciplines in different universities to develop projects to Break the Cycle.

Break the cycle students and faciltiy

Break the Cycle Students and Faculty

Our second project was to provide support for the grandparents who were caring for their grandchildren with disabilities – Project GRANDD. 

Grandd Grandparents monthly meeting

Project GRANDD Grandparents Monthly Meeting 

The 3rd program was developed to provide health care for children whose mothers had problems with substance abuse and had been homeless – Healthcare Without Walls – a Medical Home for Homeless Children.

Now, in December 2013, we have had more than 80 students from around the country through our Break the Cycle Program along with 5 international journal supplements and a series of 4 books; we have served more than 100 grandparents with more than 200 grandchildren between then in our Project GRANDD and about 150 mothers with their children through our Healthcare without Walls – a Medical Home for Homeless Children.

Project Grandd Family Zoo OutingProject GRANDD Family Zoo Outing

We have recently changed our name to Innovative Solutions for Disadvantaged and Disability to better reflect what we do, and we look forward to continuing to develop programs that will help our society’s most vulnerable children have the opportunity to become successful and lead health fulfilling lives. 

More From ISDD

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Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: VolunteenNation


StarsTraditionally, December has been Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series.

It's a time when people who work in smaller nonprofts are welcome to tell their stories. It's a way of giving back through shining a light on lesser known organizations through the voices of the those who are passionate about their cause.

It's a hope that perhaps before the year ends you'll reach into the your heart for one last 2012 donation. Or as 2013 begins find a new organization to support.

This year life got in the way of life. As The Fates would have it, just as I was feeling sad that I didn't have a nonprofit to share with you, once again social media came to the rescue. This time it was a LinkedIn connect request from a young women .. Simon Bernstein.

Skipping around her profile and then her web presence I knew the story of VolunTEEN Nation would be the perfect way to close the year. I am humbled and honored to introduce you to Simon and her story.

The VolunTEEN Nation Story

Volunteening_Simone Bernstein_1 diva marketingThe story is told by Simone Bernstein who is a junior at St. Bonaventure University. After three years of success with her local organization, Simone and her brother launched VolunTEEN Nation in March 2012.

She has spoken at numerous conferences throughout the nation, has a column at the Huffington Post, was honored in 2010 as a L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth, and was recently listed on the 2012 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurship list.

An Inspiration to Volunteer

Engaging youth in volunteer service heals divisions within communities. As an avid volunteer in both my hometown and college community, with a passion for engaging youth in volunteer service, I took the initiative to launch a national website for youth to easily find and connect with volunteer opportunities and resources at Utilizing social media tools to promote the website over 8,500 youth have found volunteer opportunities through the website, organized volunteer events, and our annual volunteer fairs.

My initial spark to volunteer in my community was ignited when my dad was deployed in the military. My siblings and I were overwhelmed with the support our family received and the outpouring of volunteers: bringing meals, helping my mom with childcare and daily errands.I wanted to volunteer, too.

I was fortunate through word-of-mouth to find youth volunteer opportunities. During high school, I took the initiative to create a regional website out of my own frustration and difficulty in finding volunteer opportunities for youth on-line. Due to safety, security and liability issues and concerns, many non-profit organizations and agencies limit the minimum age for an on-site volunteer to 18. I wanted to make it easier for area youth to find volunteer opportunities. Volunteering_2diva marketing

Interest in our regional website from schools, non-profit agencies and students around the nation drove my brother and I to create a national tool or resource for youth interested in volunteering.

Note It's A Family Affair! Photo of Simon's sister Sophie, brother/co-founder Jake, their Dad who is a captain in the Navy and Simon.

Meeting with local and national government officials, I advocate for service learning in our nation’s schools. The challenge facing our nation’s school’s is the crisis of high school dropouts due to lack of support both in the school and home. Engaging youth in service learning provides a valuable link back to the community with a strong connection to the classroom.

I organized and created the first St Louis Youth and Family Volunteer Fair. The Fair is now an annual event hosted at The St Louis Magic House, Children’s Museum with over 35 family-friendly non-profit organizations recruiting student and families to volunteer.

Wanting to engage more youth, I organize flexible volunteer projects for youth. I coordinated a September 11, 2011 tenth anniversary volunteer service project to engage youth and families “Serve to Remember” park clean-up. Combining sports and youth, my brother and I recruited 25 youth volunteers to instruct tennis lessons at “Aces for All” a weekly tennis clinic for youth on the autism spectrum “Soccer for All” and “B-ball for All”. I also helped start Making Music Matters, a successful organization where teens volunteer to teach music lessons in the inner-city schools.

My goal is to inspire others to find ways for all youth improve their communities.

  • It is well within the reach of any student to get involved and make a difference. 

Ideally, I would like to create an international volunteer site and combine my passion for volunteer service and my medical training to advocate for quality maternal.

More From VolunTeenNation

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Interview With Author Sybil F. Stershic -- Share of Mind, Share of Heart


Sybil Stershic_3It is with great pleasure that I have the honor of introducing our Diva Marketing community to a dear friend, Sybil Stershic.

Sybil's second book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart, explores the world of nonprofit marketing. The book takes a different slant from other books about NPOs; it focuses on the impact that employees and volunteers have on brand perception.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Sybil, Right from the start of Share of Mind, Share of Heart it’s clear that this is a book that you believe in and that comes from your heart. The Forward sets the direction that nonprofit marketing holds an additional element that may not be as prominent in other industries.  It’s often based on a personal and passionate commitment.

How do you walk the fine line of believing passionately in a cause while maintaining business objectivity?

Sybil Stershic: It can be a challenge, Toby. Passion for the mission is what attracts nonprofit employees, volunteers, donors and other supporters. It helps connect them and keep them engaged with the work of a nonprofit.

But passion for the mission without a bigger picture perspective can be dangerous – it can lead to burnout and a condition known as “mission creep” that dilutes organizational focus. Effective oversight by nonprofit leadership, via the executive staff and board of directors, is needed to maintain a dual focus on both the mission and the organization’s viability. While a strong mission helps drive financial support – i.e., “no mission, no money” – these leaders understand the reverse is also true – “no money, no mission.”

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Your book is full of practical, creative ideas that at first glance seem so simple; however, we know too well that implementation can be a challenge. 

Would you talk to us about what you refer to as “After The First Day” (P 59)? After the initial orientation and excitement about the organization has waned how can we help remind staff and volunteers of the mission and goals and keep them on track?

Sybil Stershic: New staff and volunteers get a lot of attention when they first join the organization. Even in smaller organizations that don’t have formal orientation or on-boarding programs, there’s still an effort to “imprint” the new person with the organization’s mission, values, and goals.

After a while the newbies blend in with other staff and volunteers. If the collective group is not kept informed on an ongoing basis as to what’s happening in the nonprofit and how it’s responding, the people within the organization tend to hunker down and lose sight of the big picture. Job descriptions become outdated; members of the board turn over, yet the staff doesn’t know who the new board members; the strategic plan is updated, but not shared with staff and volunteers; etc.

  • In the absence of ongoing communication, people start to disengage.

What’s amazing, Toby, is that the remedy to this isn’t all that difficult. It involves being intentional in proactively communicating with staff and volunteers. For example, the Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta (Whom you introduced me to, thank you! My pleasure Sybil. Bloggy disclaimer: JF&CS is a client.), holds an all-staff meeting the day after each  monthly board of directors’ meeting to share board meeting results along with updates on grants and special events. JF&CS also recognizes and shares volunteer accomplishments in its monthly e-newsletter.

Another great example is the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute that starts staff meetings and board meetings by reading aloud its mission statement to keep everyone focused. These two examples illustrate that keeping the people who help fulfill the mission “in the know” doesn’t require a Herculean effort –  it’s basic communication and engagement via staff meetings, volunteer meetings, internal newsletters, training, staff/volunteer recognition, and special events, as needed.

Diva Marketing/Toby: “So the degree to which you capture and keep consumers’ share of mind and heart is directly influenced by their interactions with your staff and volunteers.” (P 33) I really like this statement ... a lot.

Since Diva Marketing is focused on social media I’m wondering how much of a nonprofit’s online engagement in social networks, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. influences share of mind and heart?

Sybil Stershic: The degree to which a nonprofit uses social networks depends on the organization – its culture, mission, key audiences, etc. That said, social media is a wonderful way to grow share of mind and heart with mission-inspired content.

Sharing stories and pictures of how people benefit from the mission (while not breaching confidentiality) Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart … volunteers or donors sharing their experiences supporting the mission (also reinforcing the ways people can get involved) …  staff members offering a behind-the-scenes perspective of a special event … these stories help bring the mission to life. A nonprofit can also write blog posts and share links to content that educates people about its mission and programs.

While social media advocates say “content is king,” I’d go even further to say “careful content is critical” in that nonprofits need to consider sensitivity in how they present any and all messages that reflect on their mission and brand. A negative impression can easily go viral.

Toby/Diva Marketing:
  What are your thoughts about involving staff, who are not in the marketing department, and also volunteers in participating in social media/networks? Let’s take these two ways.  The first is as one of the “voices” of the nonprofit.

Sybil Stershic: I know this seems like an oxymoron, but any “voice” speaking on behalf of a nonprofit needs to be authentic to be credible, yet carefully managed to ensure the wrong message isn’t put out there. That’s why social media guidelines and training need to be part of both Human Resources and Marketing policies.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The second ... how would you encourage nonprofits to interact with consumers in the digital world?

Sybil Stershic:  The answer to this depends on the organization and its target audiences’ access to and use of social media.

For example, I know a health-related nonprofit that combines both high-tech and low-tech approaches in building share of mind and heart. To broaden its outreach efforts, the marketing director produced a brief educational video as part of an “ambassador portfolio” that also contains a list of frequently asked questions and updated brochures for use by board and staff members. Employee reps show the video when meeting with outside groups or hosting on-site facility tours.

Marketing is also in the process of updating the website to be more engaging. Yet because many of its older board members do not use email, this nonprofit communicates with its board primarily by phone and regular mail.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You’ve worked with many different types of nonprofits, and you’ve also worked with for profits. For me your book provides a roadmap that can be easily modified and used by both.  One challenge that both nonprofit and for profits face is opening lines of communication across the organization .. or “de-siloing.” What suggestions can you give us to help that critical process?

Sybil Stershic: The best way to start is to ask employees for their ideas on what works in bridging these silos. They can also help identify which departments or divisions are already doing with well with inter-organizational communications; these areas can serve as role models.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Sybil, as is the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews, you have the last word. What would you tell our community, especially those marketers working in the nonprofit world?

Sybil Stershic: Recognize your marketing team includes everyone who works in your organization, regardless of the department or function they are assigned. So you need to effectively engage the minds and hearts of the people behind the mission (your employees and volunteers who impact your brand) as well as the people in front of the mission (your consumers and the public).

Thanks, Toby!

Continue the conversation with Sybil!

Quality Services Marketing - website and blog | Share of Mind Share of Heart |Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Emplpyee Customer Care |Twitter @Sybilqsm

Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Asylee Women Enterprise (AWE)


StarsSome how it seems fitting that the last in Diva Marketing's 2011 Shining A Light on smaller nonprofits series should highlight an organization that helps courageous women find hope at the start of a new chapter in their lives. Somehow it seems fitting that this NPO goes by the name of AWE. 

Awe molly corbett
Molly Corbett
 is our story teller for this special post.

She is the founder and executive director of Asylee Women Enterprise (AWE). Molly has worked in the nonprofit sector for 20 years.  She started as a community organizer and has worked with various social service and social justice organizations. Prior to AWE she was the Director of Programs and Grants at the Ventura County Community Foundation prior to moving to Baltimore.  For the past ten years Molly has worked as a consultant to social justice organizations in the Baltimore area.

Molly Corbett - Most of us are very familiar with the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph. Mary was pregnant, they were far from home and no one would take them in. Well, last year I lived through a modern day Christmas story.

It was the week between Christmas and New Years, I received a call from the former board member of an organization that I was currently working with that serves people seeking asylum in the United States. She answered the Help Line at United Way and had received a call from a small nonprofit that was inquiring about homeless shelters.

A young, very pregnant, Afghani woman had appeared on their doorstep and they had no place for her to stay.  The former board member said she had called several other nonprofits and they were closed for the week or working with a very small staff and were unable to help her. 

She told me that Amina* had just arrived in the United States. She was forced to flee Afghanistan because she was a pregnant, unmarried woman and her life was in danger. We both knew that Amina would be re-traumatized by going to a shelter and that she was most likely very fearful of men. I said I would call the Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore, a small women’s religious community, which I had been working with for many years. 

Awe_little girl and women hand
The Sisters agreed to take Amina and give her shelter. Little did we know that six days later she would give birth to a beautiful baby boy. Amina and her son continue to live with the Sisters.

What I realized when I saw the connection between Amina and the Sisters was that what many asylee (A non-citizen of a country who has been granted asylum in that country.) women need is a sense of community – a family.  Mary had Joseph with her and now I saw how important it was for Amina to have a new family with her. 

Women and men who come here seeking asylum are here legally but do not receive any government benefits until their asylum has been decided. They are not even eligible for a work permit until at least 180 days after their first asylum hearing. The asylum process for most people takes 2 years. During this time they are vulnerable, lonely and destitute. They flee their homeland with little more than the clothes off their back. They were nurses, teachers, business women and community activists back home – now they have nothing. 

The Asylee Women Enterprise helps find safe and nurturing housing, provides a community of women to help them on their long journey to freedom here in the United States. They fled because they were persecuted back home for their religion, gender, ethnicity, political beliefs or sexual orientation. For Amina and for the thousands of other women like her, she did not come for a better life – she came to save her life.

My personal experience with Amina helped me to vision the possibility for AWE. We now house four women; there are 13 women currently on the waiting list for housing. In addition, we have 10-15 other women who join us regularly for a sense of community and family.

Social Media Lessons and Challenges

Since we are a new organization we are careful in planning our web presence and social media strategy.  We hope to use social media to educate and engage others.  Utilizing Facebook, VolunteerSpot and the website will allow me to maximize my time in spreading the word about Asylee women and AWE and attract others to our organization.

Backstory from Toby: When Molly and and I were planning this post I asked for a couple of photos. She was hesitant to show the women's faces. Not that it would necessarily intrude on Awe_hands holding handsprivacy, but that it might put the women in danger. We decided that photos of "hands" might be the way to go. 

Somehow it seems especially fitting that a photo of "hands holding hands" end our special holiday series that brought some wonderful smaller nonprofits to your attention.

Our hope is that one NPO may have touched your heart and that led to you opening your purse (or wallet) to help make other's 2012 travels just a little gentler.

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Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Baltimore Child Abuse Center


StarsWe continue our special December series that shines a spotlight on nonprofit organizations that are often in the shadows. Today's nonprofit pulls back the curtains and exposes horrific abuse to children. Shedding light on the secrets begins the healing. 

In 1987, Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) opened as a non profit in response to growing awareness that sexually abused children not only suffered from the abuse they endured, but they were also being re-victimized by the lengthy and often repetitive investigative process intended to help them. Last year, BCAC saw more than 850 children and their families.  

Jennifer Noparstak, Director of Development - Each child who comes to BCAC decorates a butterfly that hangs in the center. There are too many butterflies. BCAC is committed to ending child sexual abuse in Maryland. It can be done if we, as adults, learn more about this crime of secrecy and take responsibility for protecting our children.

The story teller for this story is Jacquelynn Kuhn.

Jacquelyn is deeply dedicated to improving the lives of children, volunteering with both the Baltimore Child Abuse Center and with Art with a Heart (AWAH), a nonprofit agency that focuses on teaching art to underserved communities in the Baltimore area. She has served as the Assistant Director for the Center for Ethics, Service and Professionalism at Michigan's Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and has worked for the American Cancer Society. She has received many awards including the 2009 Appreciation Award from the Oakland County Bar Association's 15th Annual.

Jacquelynn KuhnMs. Kuhn is committed to telling her story of child sexual abuse and healing whenever and wherever she is invited to share it.  She does this to spread hope to victims and survivors and to help to prevent this crime from happening to more children.

Note: We are honored to have Jacquelynn help us understand the world of abuse through her own story. Please take note that Jacquelynn does not sugar coat her tale. 

My name is Jacquelynn Kuhn, and I am an adult survivor of child sexual abuse. 

My abuse began when I was 5 years old. Just like a typical case of sexual abuse, my abuser was someone my family knew and trusted. He was 16 years old, and lived next door to my family. There were a lot of kids in our neighborhood, and we all played together.

My abuser would take me up to the tree house in the yard behind my house and molest me while all of my friends played below us. No one else knew what was happening, and I never told. Abusers are masters of manipulation, and he used many different tactics to keep me silent.

He threatened me. He told me if I told anyone or stopped letting him abuse me, he would bring my older brother or younger sister up to the tree house and do worse things to them.

He made me feel ashamed. He told me if I didn't like what was happening, I would not keep coming outside to play with him and my other friends.

He convinced me that I'd be the one to get in trouble. When I finally got brave and threatened him that I would tell my father and that he would go to jail for the bad things he was doing to me, he laughed and told me that I was doing the same bad things, and I would be the one to go to jail because my father would be angry with me that I hadn't told him earlier.

When you're 5 years old and experiencing something so vile, and heinous, and shameful, it's not easy to tell anyone about it. That's why the work Baltimore Child Abuse Center (BCAC) does is so important.

I've trained with BCAC to give Prevention Workshops. After attending a few and sharing my story, I've seen what a difference prevention education makes. Getting this information in front of parents and educators is crucial for the safety and protection of our children against abusers who relentlessly look for new victims.

I was never taught about my body in school, not at such a young age. And we never talked about our bodies in my family, unless it was to make us feel ashamed so that we didn't do anything "wrong" or "bad" with our bodies.

If I had been given the correct vocabulary-the proper anatomical names for my body parts-and if I had been told over and over again that I am in control of my body and no one should be touching me in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable or confused, I would have had the knowledge in the beginning stages of my abuse to know it was wrong and that it wasn't my fault. And I would have been empowered to tell someone, instead of feeling powerless to tell anyone.

My abuse ended when I was 7 years old, and only because my father was transferred to a new location. I didn't tell my family about my abuse until just recently, after I was well into my 30's and after I went through a very painful divorce from a man who also abused me. And even then, I was still afraid to tell my family about my abuse.

That's how powerful the shame and guilt can be for a victim who doesn't get help through treatment and community support. Without reporting their abuse and receiving acceptance, support, and empowerment from a caring community that surrounds them, victims end up with lives much like mine, where they continue to be abused in different relationships and even abuse themselves.

That's why I designed the butterfly mosaic mural in BCAC's family waiting room. It's there to symbolize the hope for healing in every victim and survivor of child sexual abuse. Butterflies

As a survivor, to be able to see myself in the reflective mirrors of one of those butterflies and know that I am on a path of healing, self-expression, and beauty is a powerful thing.

Many people in the community banded together to work on the mosaic, putting broken pieces of tile that symbolize the broken pieces of my life-and the lives of all sexual abuse victims-together in a way that makes sense and creates a beautiful picture from something that happened that didn't make any sense and was extremely ugly.

Knowing that a community of such caring individuals expressed concern for the healing of victims and survivors in such a tangible, loving way has taught me just how valuable I am.

The epidemic of child sexual abuse in our nation and in this world seems very overwhelming at times, but it's just as Helen Keller once said:  "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do."

I will continue to promote BCAC and its incredible work so that I can help spread hope to victims and survivors and work to prevent this crime from happening to more children, and I hope others will read this and be inspired to do the same. We each have a voice that can be used to speak out against child sexual abuse to help victims and survivors heal.

 None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something.

 Social Media Lessons and Challenges

BCAC uses its Facebook and Twitter pages as a means to build an online community to raise awareness of the issue of child sexual abuse and the resources it offers at the center.

One of the goals is to make the Facebook page a platform for discussion on the issue and to inspire others to open up and speak their mind.  We post content on our pages to engage our followers and to encourage open conversation.  By engaging our followers we are able to expand our social reach on these networks and further raise awareness to a broader base.

Through our social media efforts we also would like to convert more of our followers into donors.  We have multiple platforms online and directly through Facebook for accepting donations, and are currently working on ways to further encourage our supporters to make charitable donations to BCAC.  As a non-profit, we thrive because of our supporters and ultimately our programs and services are not possible without their support.  Donations can be made online.

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Volunteers Help Keep Nonprofits' Lights On


VolunteersDecember is Shine A Light on Smaller Nonprofits month on Diva Marketing. I hope you're enjoying the stories and perhaps learning about an organization or two that might not have been on your radar. 

Nonprofits depend on many resources from funding sources to kind donors. However, one of the most important is volunteers

  • Our lives are to be used and thus to be lived as fully as possible, and truly it seems that we are never so alive as when we concern ourselves with other people. – Harry Chapin

MSN Business On Main: News On Main highlights an interesting organization, Catchafire, which pairs volunteers with nonprofits in need of their specific talents. Catchafire charges nonprofits an annual fee and is free to volunteers.

As we've seen in many of our Diva Marketing Shine A Light on Smaller Nonprofits, NPOs are incorporating social media as part of their communication strategy. However, there is another way that social media can be utilize .. as part of a volunteer initative. Who better to help pass the word about an NPO's programs and mission but through the people who are passionate about the cause to the extend that they are giving of their time .. its volunteers. 

One of the best examples I've seen is from Taylor's Tale: Project E-Warenss.  All the ways that volunteers, and people who just want to help speard the word, are consolidated in an eBook. By the way, Taylor's Tale was the inspiration for Diva Marketing's Shine A Light on Smaller Nonprofits holiday series. Here's their story told by its founder, Laura King Edwards.

In this time of giving, let's make this a two way street .. something for you and something that will help nonprofits.

 MSN Business On Main/Diva Marketing Nonprofit Tip Contest ~ Win $100!

Share 1 idea on how a nonprofit can incorporate social media + volunteers to expand awareness of the NPO

When it comes to social good marketing Geoff Livingston gets it from the heart. Award winning author, Geogg Livingston_Give To Max Day strategiest, photographer and proud dad Geoff understands the unique needs of nonprofits and is devoting his talents to helping "mindful companies and nonprofits."

Geoff has graciously agreed to be our Guest Judge for this special contest.  Connect with Geoff on his blog, Twitter -@GeofflivingFacebookFlickr,  LinkedIn, Google+.

Rules of MSN The Business on Main/Diva Marketing Social Media Small Business Tips Contest 

1. Post your tip for how to use social media for branding on this Diva Marketing post And on this MSN Business On Main Post. If you don't post on MSN BOM and indicate Diva Marketing you cannot qualify for the $100 prize. 

2. Identify your post on Business On Main with the words Diva Marketing

3. Winner is at the pleasure of Diva Marketing.

4. Contest ends midnight Saturday January 7, 2011.

5. You must be at least 18 years of age

6. A valid eMail address must be included on the "Post a Comment Section" of your Diva Marketing comment. (How will I know where to contact you to send your check?)

That's it .. now it's your turn! Wouldn't $100 extra be nice to help with those holiday bills?

Drum beat please .. winner is .. Greer. Congrats!

" Give thanks! Thank your volunteers, donors, staff members, other organizations, etc. Non-profits can't do it alone and thanking people in a public way, such as through social media, is a huge compliment to those who have donated their time, money and energy to your cause."

Here's what are uber cool guest judge, Geoff Livingston had to say about why he chose Greer's tip.

OK, so here it is, I am going with Greer's comment. Here's why: 

  • "Thanking volunteers is a critical act of recognition that fosters long term health in a nonprofit. Peer recognition is pretty much the only thing these people get for thanks in exchange for providing time and expertise.  Social media is the ideal way to do this in a very public way.  Consider that these people are a 501(c)3's lifeblood, providing critical human resources for cash strapped organizations.  
  • But it goes further. Volunteers do more than provide bandwidth, they also serve as word of mouth ambassadors and their households donate twice as much as the average  Americans. Social recognition allows them to wear their honors publicly (similar to a badge) by retweeting, Likes, +1s and reshares creating more word of mouth, more good will and more donation."  

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MNS Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Stories from Smaller Nonprofits: National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel


StarsAt this holiday season we are encouraged to look beyond face value to the heart of the people who may touch our lives .. directly or indirectly. "Looks" of nonprofits may also be deceiving at first glance.

For the first time we are opening Diva Marketing's Holiday For Small Nonprofits Series to a couple of special programs offered by larger nonprofits. These initiatives often have unique budgets and dedicated staff .. much the same as smaller nonprofits. 

John Pollock _Public Justice CenterThis story is told by John Pollock who manages this unique program. As Jennifer Pelton, Director of Development, proudly told me, "John brings strong leadership -- and helpful tools -- to the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC.)"

John Pollock - This Coalition seeks to address a severe justice gap in this country. People who can afford private counsel will hire a lawyer when something critically important to them – such as their home or the custody of their children – is at stake. Too many people do not have that choice. In what is a surprise to many, the right to a lawyer (in civil cases) is not guaranteed. 

Private counsel is unaffordable and civil legal services (or other “free”) counsel meets only 20 percent of the need. Further compounding the problem, all too often,indigent litigants  face an opponent who does have a lawyer. This justice gap especially hurts families of color, families headed by women, children and the elderly.

In 2004, attorneys and advocates from around the nation created the NCCRC to expand recognition and implementation of a right to counsel in civil cases. The Coalition is led by the Public Justice Center, a legal advocacy organization based in Maryland. As the coordinator, I oversee services to coalition participants by providing advice, information, testimony and other support. I also managed a vast amount of information through a newly created wiki and bibliography.

Judge Annette Marie Rizzo talks about civil rights to counsel in foreclosure cases. 

One of the major problems faced by the Coalition was its lack of an easy way to share its massive research and case-related resources with all 200+ participants in an organized fashion, particularly given the wide levels of familiarity with technology within the Coalition.

Additionally, because of the lack of organization and the fact that few knew the full extent of documents in existence, key resources would go unutilized and reinvention of the wheel (with respect to repeating existing research) was not uncommon.

Social Media Lessons and Challenges

The Coalition chose a product called PBWorks which was obtained at a very steep discount thanks to the generosity of the PBWorks company. I established the wiki and stored the documents in an organized system, then used web-conferencing software to train coalition participants on how to access and navigate the wiki.

In addition to ensuring that Coalition participants could remain aware of all of the Coalition's resources, the wiki  has solved other problems as well.  In the past, when documents to be shared were emailed, Coalition participants that joined the Coalition later on would not have access to such documents without combing through the email archives.  

Now, both new and old participants need only visit the wiki to see a complete picture of the Coalition's resources.  Also, the wiki provides a weekly summary to all Coalition participants about all documents on the wiki that have changed, thus allowing them to know if Coalition staff upload newer versions of memos, case briefs, or other important documents.  Finally, the wiki provides one centralized location for the entire memory store of the Coalition.  For all of these reasons, the wiki has empowered advocates in the various states to benefit from the collective wisdom and work of the Coalition.

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